ANOTHER GRAHAM APPEAL,
January 1996 Official
Publication of JUSTICE FOR ALL Volume
4 Issue 1
"Justice will only be achieved when those who
are not injured by crime, feel as indignant as those who are."
-King Solomon 635-577 BC
by Pam Lychner
For the 33rd time, over the past 14 years, Gary
Graham has had another appeal denied. The 3rd court of Appeals in Austin
(the "Court") correctly denied Graham's demand that the Board
of Pardons and Parole (the "Board") grant him a clemency hearing
on his claims of innocence. Previously, all other Texas and Federal courts
had slammed the door on Graham regarding this issue.
The Court correctly stated that a court of law, not
the Board, was the proper arena in which to present actual claims of innocence.
In April of 1994, the Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest criminal court
in Texas, had established (in Texas ex rela. Holmes v. Court of Appeals
for the Third District 885 S.W. 2d 386) a procedure for holding just such
a hearing in the appropriate district criminal court. The Court properly
stated that it was the district court, not the Board which should provide
the possible venue for such a hearing.
However, that 1994 decision was not good enough for
Graham and his attorneys. They wanted an additional hearing from the Board
AND the hearing in the district court. Graham's attorneys argued that the
hearing standards were too high and that Graham could not get a fair opportunity
to present their claims.
The Court ruled against Graham in every area, stating
that "the Board determines whether a prisoner is entitled to clemency
as a matter of grace (not right or privilege) ....". In 1993, the Board
had already voted 12 - 5 against holding a hearing for Graham. Now in January,
1996, the Court finally has stated that the Board shall not be forced to
In its decision, the Court noted "the well settled
proposition that our State Constitution may provide greater protection for
individual rights than the United States Constitution". The gruesome
reality is that not only does Texas grant superior rights to the accused
and the guilty, it does so at the expense of the civil and human rights
of victims and other citizens.
While the Graham case may have set the standard for
a condemned man's manipulation of an absurd criminal justice system, it
still represents only one case in a national system gone mad. Once the great
beacon of due process in the world, the United States has perverted its
criminal justice system into a rancid game of give the most vile criminal
the most extraordinary due process and forget justice while the victims,
the citizens and the nation get screwed.
In addition to our most precious "the accused
shall be deemed innocent until proven guilty", I strongly suggest that
we have already added, informally, "the accused shall be set free upon
being found guilty". Absurd you say? According to Professor John DiIulio,
Jr. (Princeton University and The Brookings Institute), of the 6.6 million
violent crimes committed in 1992, only 100,000 persons, or 1.5%, were sentenced
to a year or more in jail.
And what of Graham?
I must admit; Graham's attorneys are right. The standards
for the new hearing procedure have been set too high - for Graham. Graham's
attorneys forgot, perhaps, that a hearing's success is based on the credibility
of the evidence, not on the ranting and ravings of a Hollywood inspired
JUSTICE FOR ALL has produced an exhaustive 20 page
report on the lies and abuses of the pro-Graham movement. The report: HOLLYWOOD,
MURDER AND TEXAS - Death Row Inmate Gary Graham and the Anti-Death Penalty
Movement, A Case Study of Lies, Half-Truths and Intimidation is available
by request. A $5.00 donation is requested to defray the cost of research
OH, GIVE ME A HOME, WHERE THE
An Editorial by Sterlene Donahue
I truly am an animal lover. I have two cats, a
fish and an iguana. If I had the space available, I would also have dogs,
pigs, horses, chickens and the like. So it was with much dismay that I read
the Houston Chronicle headline "A
Butchered Buffalo" by Thaddeus Herrick from the Houston Chronicle
San Antonio Bureau.
It seems that a "disturbed" San Antonio
area man was arrested for butchering a 1,500 lb. buffalo at a Hill Country
wildlife park. The individual, a 35 year old man from Helotes, Texas was
on PAROLE at the time for slaughtering a prize breeding bull and some cattle
at a Hill Country ranch. He even earned his UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE while serving
time in prison in Huntsville.
At any rate, I was sickened to think that this individual
had decapitated and skinned this prized and cherished animal; but as I read
further, I was outraged to see that his bond had been set at $1,000,000!!
Divina Nicole Henderson, the woman who killed Michael George (Laura George's
son) was given $10,000 (appeal) bond. The man who killed Tex, my beautiful
son, had bond set at $10,000. What does this tell us? Maybe we should be
raising cattle instead of children? Could it be that Texas has archaic laws
and misplaced values? Maybe we've just accepted the murder of a human as
commonplace and unless the murder is unconscionably gruesome, it just doesn't
get our attention.
I'm not sure just what the problem is, but I can tell
you this: until our justice system and elected officials put as much value
on human life as they do their prize-winning cattle and exotic animals,
the slaughter of humans will continue. Furthermore, I won't stop raising
children, not will I stop raising hell with those who can fix what's broken:
the whole Texas judicial system.
JUSTICE FOR ALL has been in operation
for little over two years and we have come a long way. In retrospect, none
of JFA's accomplishments would have been possible without your support.
Look at what we have done in such a short period of time.
- We have provided a forum for criminal justice
experts to speak to our membership and the community.
- We have lobbied on behalf of criminal justice
reform all the way from the Governor's office to the Texas
State Legislature and to your local civic organizations.
- We provide a referral and advisory service to
victims of violent crime to compeers.
- We publish a monthly newsletter that discusses
important crime legislation and victims' support issues.
- We conduct monthly meetings to review accomplishments,
present action items, present educational forums, provide lectures and conduct
- We participate in a statewide network of crime
- We interview and evaluate hundreds of judicial,
legislative and executive branch candidates. We campaign on the behalf of
those we endorse and publish our endorsements through the media.
- We are an important link to local and national
news media, providing them with stories and information vital to the public
- We write and publish newspaper articles to inform
citizens of issues vital to public safety.
- We protest and lobby against laws and policies
which are ineffective, too weak and/or injurious to the public good or victims'
- We have begun a fund-raising campaign to provide
for the voluntary surgical castration of pedophiles.
- We have conducted dozens of public rallies throughout
the state to protest or support specific criminal justice matters.
- We have assisted in preventing the release of
from 50 to 70 violent criminals by written and signed petitions and with
telephone campaigns to the Governor, parole board and legislators.
- Legislators often call us to support policy
changes and legislation.
- LEGISLATION PASSED:
JFA lobbied for major restructuring of the Mandatory Release Laws.
These laws allow early release of criminals.
- LEGISLATION PASSED: Major reform of the
Habeas Corpus appeals process. This new law greatly reduces the abuse in
the appellate process.
- LEGISLATION PASSED: Major revision to the
state jail felon laws, greatly reducing automatic probation and many other
- We brought international exposure to the fraud
perpetrated by the supporters of the Texas death row inmate, Gary Graham
and Philadelphia's "mirror" case with Mumia Abu Jamal.
- We assist community and civic organizations
in their efforts to work for legislative reform.
- JFA has designed and marketed "Victims'
Remembrance Bracelets" in order to create a greater awareness of the
rights of victims and all law-abiding citizens.
- We have expanded nationwide with the addition
of chapters in Philadelphia and Reno.
- We organized Texas' first Victims Rights Day
recognized by the State of Texas and
were honored by the House of Representatives and the Senate.
- We helped produce documentaries by the BBC and
CNN regarding the death penalty.
OF THE PRISON TOUR
On Thursday, January 4, 1996, eight members of Justice
For All, including Criminal Judge Jan Krocker, spent the entire day on a
very comprehensive tour of the Walls Prison and Death Row (Eastham Unit)
in Huntsville, Texas.
by Lee Wells Flowers
In the past I, wrongly, avoided going on these type
of prison tours that many of you have experienced, for a myriad of reasons
that range from fear, emotional and health concerns (reports of rampant
T.B., AIDS, etc. inside the prisons due to the close quarters). Well, I
now have a true picture and understanding of what the prison system really
is and because of this, I believe, a better ability to do the work that
we all are involved in because of all of the incorrect information being
set aside. Our group was very inquisitive and really did learn a lot.
The Warden II, of the Walls Unit, Neil Hodges, concurred
with me that the prison there was very much like a small town or community
with he being its Mayor. This community has super structure and security,
of course. The inmates, its residents, in almost all cases, contrary to
what we hear, have jobs and you see them going to and from their work areas
and around and about to various places within the compound such as rehabilitation
sessions, school, the infirmary, etc. Most of them eat in the cafeteria
areas and the food, while certainly not gourmet fare, is quite decent, as
are the portions. They rarely have beef and when they do, it is ground.
Since the Eastham Unit boasts one of the largest hog farms in the state
of Texas, they do have a lot of pork.
Warden Hodges told us that nearly all of his men have
jobs and those that feel too bad to work are given the duty of polishing
all of the brass bars at one of the Walls Unit entrances. They get to feeling
a lot better after a day or two of that he says!
Having the inmates work while incarcerated serves
a two-fold purpose. Number one is in the resultant money savings to the
State for prison operations (tax dollars) and in the rehabilitation of these
inmates in preparing them for the outside so that they may work gainfully
and thus, avoid the thought of criminal acts, hopefully. How many times
have we heard these people say that "we had no other option but to
steal, etc. to survive." Learning trades in prison and earning money
for the prison is a smart idea that seems positive.
We toured the mill where they take the cotton the
prison grows, clean and dry it and then spin it into thread and fiber for
the manufacture of uniforms, towels, mops, etc. The furniture manufacturing
plant was very impressive and the quality was as good as anything we could
purchase for our homes. We learned that the prison makes almost all of the
furniture for the State of Texas facilities such as book cases, desks, entertainment
centers, beds, etc. The beds are quite attractive and are used in State
Orphanages. The prison has large contracts with the State to completely
refurbish its old school buses. This is quite lucrative when you realize
the purchase of a new school bus is from a low of $40,000 to $60,000 on
the average and the prison can turn a refurbished model out for $20,000.
The inmates will have little problem finding work in this type of trade
since there is always a great demand for these skills.
We met the Dean of Education and he told us that it
is an accepted fact that education is the most important rehabilitation
tool they have in the prison system. The average grade completed by inmates
entering the system is little past grade six so they try to see that these
people get their GED's and they now have ways to see that they participate
in becoming literate to assist in surviving on the outside upon release.
They recently implemented a process of assisting them in how to fill out
pre-employment applications, proper demeanor on job interviews and direct
them to companies that are receptive to the hiring of inmates. We were told
that our tax dollars no longer fund inmate education and the inmates must
pay for it now. They detailed the methods of making them pay and it seems
like it will work, actually. This includes all education; GED and college.
The recidivism rates improve with inmate education and this is a fact
Each evening the inmates are locked up in small, crude,
ugly cells and this is as it should be, I believe. There is a television
for every three cells that is placed in the hallway area. The three cell
units must vote on what they should watch. A lot of people believe the inmate
population should not have television access and I was one of them. I now
realize the importance of giving them something or these people can become
even more sociopathic in many cases if deprived totally. We are the ones
that will suffer in the long run. Think about what happens if you
take a dog and chain it with little or no comfort or recreation. It becomes
a creature that no one would want to reckon with as a result.
Lock up is merely having a steel door brought down
to cover the entire portion of their cell with but a small glass window
for the guards to look in when checking on them. The food is the same, they
still receive recreation although limited and this lock up period lasts
for fifteen days and then they must be allowed out on regular time for seventy-two
hours and may be placed back if the inmate's behavior has not improved for
another fifteen days as long as they have the seventy-two hour break.
Some of the men request total segregation and may
receive it if the prison officials believe their lives could be in danger
because of the particular heinousness of their crimes (Rex Mayes is an example).
The chapel within the prison is considered to be one
of the effective rehabilitation processes and outside clergy regularly visit
and work with the inmates. The warden said having church services in anything
other than a real chapel type environment does not work well (many prisons
use gymnasiums and such and do not have actual chapels). For many of these
inmates, church and some preaching sounds pretty good compared to sitting
in their cells. In many cases, some of these inmates are actually able to
be reached, spiritually. For every one that is reached, we on the outside
I was so surprised to learn that most of the guards
that work at the prisons do not have guns. The reason is so that inmates
cannot take the guns and we all know what can happen if they did. The guards
that we met, as well as all of the prison personnel, were so very impressive.
The warden is tough as he must be and has a unique personality that they
say all wardens in the prison system share. They have one of the absolute
toughest jobs a person could have. The warden lets the new inmates coming
in know exactly what is expected of them and they can have an easy time
or a terrible time while in his charge. It is up to them as to whether they
"toe the line" or not. This discipline is absolute. This warden
assured us that there would be no verbal abuses directed toward us while
we were there and after all I had heard from others on prison tours, did
not expect it to happen. We were impressed.
There were two very poignant moments on the tour.
The first was as we walked down through death row, seeing Bob Carriero stand
face to face with his daughter's murderer, Rex Mayes. I cannot describe
the thirty second confrontation. I will never forget it. The second
was while standing in the death chamber with a hand on the gurney. I looked
up and saw the partition dividing the witness viewing area already in place
for that first victim to have their rights in place if they choose that
option they so deserve.
Visiting the prison gave me a renewed enthusiasm and
hope to continue the work with all of you at Justice For All in the VICTIM
TRAGEDY STRIKES RURAL COMMUNITY OF CROSBY
It was Thursday night, November 16th, 1995 when Willy
Prochazka was working late at his family-owned restaurant, Port Royal Restaurant
in Crosby, a small community just east of Houston. He was preparing
shrimp to serve at a catered meal for a corporate customer. He probably
never heard the two intruders as they stole their way into the restaurant.
At his home, his wife, Angel Lee Prochazka, was anxiously waiting for her
husband to come home. Around 9:00 pm she became a little disappointed because
he was staying later than he said that he would, mainly because it was their
38th wedding anniversary. She called the restaurant, but there was no answer.
She told herself, "Well, he's on his way home." The business was
only ten minutes away and after about fifteen she became a little concerned.
After another attempt at calling with no response, she drove to the restaurant
to find the car parked in front and all the lights on is the building. After
she entered, she found Willy lying in a puddle of blood that was coming
from the back of his swollen and bruised head. He was still breathing
so she telephoned a local ambulance service and her sons; she was able to
get Richard. Richard arrived at the same time as the ambulance. It
took two days for Willy to die. He had been struck in the back of the head
with a baseball bat.
The offenders were caught some time later. The youngest
was overheard in a convenience store, bragging of their feats and joking
about the fact that they heard the skull crack when they struck him. This
lead to the arrest of two 18 year-olds, who were charged with capital murder,
and one juvenile, whose hearing was on January 10.
Justice For All will continue monitoring this case
as it goes through the system and will keep you informed of its progress.
The members at JFA regret what this family is going through. We have
seen these scenarios all too many times.
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